Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 19 points, and 12th-seeded Mississippi State routed LSU 79-52 Wednesday night in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs (16-15) will play fifth-seeded Alabama on Thursday.
Mississippi State now has won two straight for the first time since winning at Arkansas on Jan. 10, then beating Texas A&M on Jan. 14. The Bulldogs took advantage of playing LSU for the second time in five days, and they also snapped a three-game skid in the league tournament with their first win since their opening game in 2014 over Vanderbilt.
Reserve Tyson Carter added 18 points for the Bulldogs. Xavian Stapleton had 13, and Lamar Peters 10.
No. 13 seed LSU (10-21) wraps up the season losing 17 of its final 18 with this possibly coach Johnny Jones’ final game at his alma mater.
Skylar Mays led LSU with 13 points, and Antonio Blakeney had 11.
Mississippi State jumped out to a big halftime lead just as the Bulldogs did in sweeping the regular season series between the teams.
LSU led 8-2 as the Bulldogs missed their first five shots. Then Mississippi State got going with Carter knocking down back-to-back 3s as they swapped the lead four times with seven ties. LSU took its last lead at 25-24 on a jumper by Branden Jenkins with 5:25 left.
The Tigers didn’t score again until the second half. Weatherspoon stole the ball and dunked with 4:43 left to put Mississippi State ahead to stay, the first of 13 straight points to end the half with a 37-25 halftime lead.
Mays hit a jumper in the opening seconds of the second half to end the scoring drought for LSU. The Tigers never got closer than four, the last at 41-37 on a bucket by Mays with 16:34 left. Peters answered with a 3 as Mississippi State pushed the lead back to as much as 29 in the final minute.
The Bulldogs get a third shot at Alabama after being swept by the Crimson Tide during the regular season. This win gives coach Ben Howland two more victories than his debut season and gives the Bulldogs a chance to improve their resume for the NIT.
A year ago, Jones had Ben Simmons who would wind up the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick. Now Jones has lost the tournament opener for the second time in three years, and athletic director Joe Alleva has to decide if it’s time to part with a man who not only played for the Tigers but started his coaching career at LSU.
LSU finished the game without hitting a field goal in the final 11:33. The Tigers missed their final 15 attempts and hit only one of the last 19.